Athens artist Erin McIntosh works primarily in abstraction, so it may be a surprise to learn that her "Microbes" series of paintings aren't abstract at all. A few years ago, she started working with colleagues in the biology department at the University of North Georgia (UNG), where she teaches in the department of visual arts. Together, they worked on an art exhibition focused on microorganisms to see if art could correct public misconceptions about these tiny creatures. McIntosh spent time in the lab, looking at slides under a microscope, but the images that resulted aren't exactly true to life. Instead, she used them as a jumping off point to create images full of layered color and organic shapes, which she continued making even after the project concluded. "Microbe no. 12" is from that series and, indeed, it calls to mind the scientists of "Fantastic Voyage," floating among neurons and red blood cells that dwarf them.
Despite the complex, layered nature of the images, McIntosh says her compositions are largely unplanned. She doesn't make sketches before diving in with paint, but she does follow an order of operations, starting with translucent watercolors and finishing with opaque gouache as the topmost part of the painting. That process creates depth of field, by making the "closest" shapes the sharpest and the "farthest" away softer and blurrier. She says that she loves both watercolor and acrylic as a painter, switching back and forth as she goes through different phases.
McIntosh has a bachelor of fine arts degree in studio art and art education from the University of Georgia and returned there for her master of fine arts degree. In addition to teaching on the college level, including at UGA's Cortona, Italy, study-abroad program, she has taught art to elementary school children, through Atlanta's public art programs and at the Georgia Museum of Art. She has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions regionally and nationally, and her paintings have been published in "New American Paintings," the "Georgia Review" and "Create Magazine."
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